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Four Famous Whales

  • Category: Celebs  |
  • 25 Jan, 2016  |
  • Views: 3069  |
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There is one underlying fantasy that all casino goers, whether brick and mortar or online, share; they all would like to be a whale.

In the casino world a whale is a high roller, a very high high roller. Dedicated casino hosts work tirelessly in hopes of attracting whales to their properties and to ensure their return. Amenities routinely offered to whales include private jets to and from the casinos, around the clock limo service while they are in town, gourmet meals, exquisite suites, show tickets and other gifts as well.

1 Four Famous Whales

The stories of sports and movie stars such as Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan, Ben Affleck and John Daley’s casino visits are fairly common, with minimum bets of $25,000 per hand being the norm. While wagers in that realm are well beyond most of players, to the whales $25,000 often is the amount of a tip.

Whales routinely bet in the $250,000 range and have credit lines in the tens of millions of dollars. Most casino observers estimate there are less than 500 whales in the world.

Here are four of the most famous.

Adnan Khashoggi

Adnan Khashoggi’s estimated worth is in the $4 billion range. The Saudi Arabian arms dealer is well known for his willingness to gamble and his tendency to spend lavishly. His entourage often includes up to a dozen people. Khashoggi’s games of choice are blackjack and baccarat and his sky high bets are legendary. During one incredible visit, the billionaire’s luck at the table was large enough to cause a 19% drop in the quarterly profits of Hilton International.

Archie Karas

A few years ago during ESPN’s coverage of the WSOP an older player completed a young player for making a really good play. Another player at the table told that player “If you knew who he was, you would be even more impressed.” The player handling out compliments was Archie Karas. Karas is best known for “the run.” Between 1992 and 1994, Karas build his $50 bankroll up to over $40 million. When friends suggested he invest part of it, he insisted that it needed in order to play. Karas’ games of choice were poker, craps, and baccarat.


2 Four Famous Whales

Karas lost his entire bankroll in 1995 and 1996, and set about rebuilding it.

Kerry Packer

Kerry Packer was known as the “King of the Whales”. His game of choice was blackjack. While some players try card counting in order to win, Packer simply bet staggering sums. In the late 1990’s Packer won over $20 million during one forty minute session at the MGM in Las Vegas by playing six blackjack hands at a time for $250,000 per hand.

Packer once left a $1 million tip at the Mirage. He also tipped a cocktail waitress the amount necessary to pay off her mortgage, $150,000.

William Bergstrom

While he is not a whale in the traditional sense William Bergstrom, known as “The Suitcase Man”, deserves honorable mention. Binion’s in downtown Las Vegas was famous for it’s “no limit” betting policy. Bergstrom’s first visit was in 1980. He arrived at the casino with two suitcases. He opened on to reveal that it contained $777,000. He bet the entire amount on one craps bet, won and left after filling the second suitcase with his winnings. He repeated the performance in 1984, making a winning bet of $538,000. His lucky streak came to an end in November 1984, when his suitcase contained $1 million in cash, gold and cashier’s checks, which he lots on a single roll at the craps table.


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